Lost Worlds – Japan Times Articles

By Michael Gakuran | | Haikyo / Ruins | 14 Comments |

A collection of haikyo articles penned by Japan Times staff writer Eriko Arita ventures into the deeper meaning behind ruins exploration and its popularity in Japan. A mention of my thoughts of the subject are included in one of the stories.

Lost worlds of Japan – Exploring the popularity of haikyo, the nostalgia for all things transient and a mention of my interview.

Roads to nowhere lead to past times – An authority on Japan’s old tunnels, Yoshiyuki Hiranuma, gives us a rundown.

Crumbling relics tell of life and death — and of rebirth, too – Kaoru Nakata gives a great overview of Japan’s ruins and how they provide not just an economic value to the country, but also a spiritual one.

I’m curious. What’s the deeper meaning behind ruins for you?

14 comments on “Lost Worlds – Japan Times Articles
  1. Laura says:

    I think they prove we have a past and a connection to the people who were here to create, care about and live in all the places before us.

  2. Robert says:

    Actually I see it as simple.
    Every where on earth has to be “formed” by perception.
    In nature this is done primarily without humans and produces the natural world we perceive.
    Every living thing by existing is manufacturing the total result.

    Now to understand how this relates to ruins, one can see that they are less visited by their human manufacturers and their “solidity” is becoming softer.There is less constant observation to form their substance.
    The opposite of the ruin is the busy public space. Say a railway station, see how hard the substance is.
    You have little creative input, it’s crowd formed, worn and often tiring; you pass through it without much interest.
    Your enjoyment of ruins is that you have input on what you see, because so few are forming it.
    Gradually the non human living things start forming it back to their more abundant reality.

    The human manufacture process:
    During construction the concentrated human attention results at the opening of the building in the crystalline hard sharpness we see.
    Every brick etc has been carefully placed by someone in accordance with the wishes and orders of others.
    If one human creator predominates over the construction, usually the architect then we may hold the building as interesting for that reason.
    That hardness: See a new car in a showroom compared against a hidden classic under a tarpaulin.

    The eerie feeling that is felt by everyone is the form falling back into the psyche.Softening.
    That feeling is unpleasant enough to the anxious “hardening” youth that they find themselves unstable and often destroy the place.
    Nostalgia is not really to me an honest reason; it’s a secondary mental activity that often occurs.
    The first experience is the feeling of this pre-existence and the innate knowledge that your observation is strongly valid.
    You are the creator, at least to some degree.
    And you’re consumed with discovering every aspect of that creation.
    You don’t experience this in the railway station or run round clambering all the place to form it.

    Your need to be an elite discoverer is because you don’t want this precious softening to be hardened with the feet of the masses.
    Who hasn’t been to the ruin that is used up by hardened mud paths or even destroyed by the gravel tracks and historical plaques.
    That’s not a criticism I admire your curiosity.
    I can’t see redevelopment is a problem, let the ruins be razed and something else be built- there will always be something being abandoned too.
    And being the first on the case will be someone like yourself to experience the freshness of uncreation.


  3. Gakuranman says:

    Usually using books and browsing Japanese internet sites :). Word of mouth between friends is another big source.

  4. leviacarmina says:

    really beautiful :-)

  5. Anonymous says:

    this lost world maybe looks scary when the night comes…haha
    great shoot gakuranman! ^^

  6. elisabel says:

    As an artist, I understand the attraction to ruins. As a Detroiter, it always bothered me when photographers who weren’t Detroiters would come to the city, capture its ruin, and go back to their cushy homes in the suburbs. I’m sure there are native Detroiters (and by “Detroiter” I mean someone from the city proper) who also like to photograph or paint ruins, but the impression I always got was that it was a largely suburban phenomenon. Statistically it makes sense; notwithstanding the recent trend of gentrification if you live in the city proper you’re more likely to be lower to lower middle class and therefore less inclined to want to take pictures that represent poverty and economic decline.

    At least, like Gunkanjima mentioned in the last article, all the attention has probably turned into a small source of revenue for the city, as its most famous ruin, the Michigan Central Depot, has been used in a few movies (“Transformers,” “The Island,” and some others). But the only person, I think, who used it artistically and respectfully was Eminem in his music video “Beautiful.”

  7. Jason Collin says:

    It would be hard to use anything besides my D300, as even when I use my backup/second camera, a Nikon D80, I think, “toy.”

    I got an iPhone 4 yesterday so I am excited to see how well its improved camera performs and if it will do as a camera when I am just out and about.

  8. Gakuranman says:

    Yea, I get where you’re coming from. I have to admit, I do look for locations that I think would make a great post as well as those that just look interesting to explore. I think the two are usually one and the same. But when actually exploring, sometimes even my lightweight little PEN and the tripod get in the way.

    Most of the time though, I’ll strike a balance whereby I go in and explore/check the safety with a torch and the camera off at first. Afterwards I usually do a sweep of the place again afterwards for video and pictures. If the haikyo is particularly big, then I’ll break the process up into explore, shoot, explore, shoot (etc.)

    I’m not sure if I would enjoy the process more without photography though. Part of the fun for me is looking around for great shots and trying to capture the feel of the place. If I was just going in to look around, the whole process would be over a lot more quickly too. It also depends a lot on the type of haikyo and other factors. Infiltration, for example, would be thrilling without any photography at all, but it’s also the riskiest and rarest form of exploration.

    I wholeheartedly agree with leaving the camera at home sometimes though. I went out in my jinbei to see the fireworks the other night with just my PEN and a couple of tiny lenses. I debated whether to bring the tripod but decided against it and was very glad that I did. Far too many people to use it and I managed to make do balancing the camera on a drinks can for long exposure shots. You might want to consider a small camera for those occasions when snapshots for memories are all you want.

  9. Jason Collin says:

    yeah, my point in asking that is I would not want haikyo to turn into something where I was thinking while in the haikyo, “wow, this is going to make a great post,” or something like that, where posting takes precedence over the actual act.

    Would you enjoy the act of exploring the haikyo more without stopping to take photos and to carry around the photography gear? If I asked myself that same question, I would undoubtedly say yes, having no heavy photo gear would allow me to enjoy exploring MUCH more. Would not be worried about getting shots or damaging gear, etc.

    I try to practice what I preach myself, having last Sunday left my DSLR at home while going to a country park I had never been to before as I just wanted to have a peaceful walk through the live oak forest and then onto the boardwalk through the cypress swamp.

  10. Gakuranman says:

    I was writing another article for the Japan Times at the time and I expressed interest in writing a haikyo article too. They said they already had one in the works, so I offered to just help out instead. It was going to be that they would publish some of my pictures too, but it seems a more famous Japanese haikyo dude came on the scene, so my role got cut back a little.

    As for no comments or views, it’s tricky. I certainly wouldn’t stop visiting haikyo or exploring in general, but I might not be as inclined to post them on the internet or make the effort to process the pictures and write a good story. I do get motivation from the kind words of my readers :).

  11. Jason Collin says:

    Seems you are on quite the media blitz lately! Nice going. Did the Japan Times tell you, or did you ask them, how they found you and why they chose you to interview (not that they didn’t make a good choice)?

    If you got no comments on your haikyo blog posts, no views even, would you still visit haikyo?

  12. Gakuranman says:

    Excellent explanation. I knew there was method to my mad title ;).

  13. The Envoy says:

    A stare into the past – a void, yes, but one which once teemed with life

  14. it's always emotionally gripping to watch nature conquer cement. i'm a visitor in a memory that leaps out of the standard history textbook.

Leave a Reply to Robert Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Get the Gakuranman Newsletter!

Greetings, fellow Adventurer!

For a limited time, subscribe free and get:

Just enter your name and email below: